Port Coquitlam Cemetary torn up by animals looking for chafer beetles

The grass at the Port Coquitlam Cemetery has been peeling away at a rapid rate since Christmas, as a new infestation of chafer beetles has resulted in much of property being torn up.

“It establishes in these old lawns, and we’re left with this damage,” said Bill Herbst, the Port Coquitlam Parks Coordinator. “All this damage is before Christmas…we came back in the new year and were faced with this.”

The damage comes in two different ways. The beetles eat the roots of the grass, while the sheer number of them bring attention to birds and other animals who tear up the ground trying to get them.

The outbreak was first detected in New Westminster in 2001, but has come back many times since. This time the invasive species can been seen as far away as North Vancouver, but the worst hit area is the Tri-Cities.

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“This problem started about 15 years ago,” said Herbst. “[But] this amount is quite incredible.”

Peter Fitzmaurice of Gardenworks says people should properly maintain their lawn, keeping the grass length a little longer, making it harder for beetles to lay eggs. Come summer, you can put nematodes on your lawn to help deal with the problem.

“These guys will get fat and continue to grow, and each one could grow up to 200 eggs in the summer,” said Fitzmaurice.

Herbst is pessimistic the problem will be solved at his cemetery any time soon.

“Quite honestly I think we’re going to be stuck with this for a while.”